A diverting whodunit bolstered by a laudable, complex detective.


From the Chad Kidd Desert Thriller series , Vol. 1

A California private eye puts himself and others in peril while digging into a triple-murder cold case in this first installment of a thriller series.

Chad Kidd, a former Palm Springs cop-turned-private investigator, looks into the murder of Chloe Nelson from four years ago. She was the teenage daughter of Kidd’s former colleague Phil Nelson, a retired lieutenant. Firefighters found the charred remains of Chloe; her mother (and Phil’s ex-wife), Diana; and Diana’s boyfriend, Dan Brady, at a house fire, though all three were dead from gunshots. But as Chloe’s burning body was in a wheelbarrow in the front yard, Kidd and Phil surmise the teen was the primary target. There’s a slew of people for Kidd to interrogate, from Lizzy Grant (the teen’s best friend who’s devoted a Facebook page to finding the killer) to Jay Strait (Chloe’s ex-boyfriend who Lizzy and Phil are convinced is guilty). Before long, an anonymous Facebook message and phone call threaten Lizzy to stay quiet, and Kidd notices a Dodge Charger following him around. While the PI updates his growing suspect list, he also notes a possible tie between drug dealers and the murder case. The increasingly dangerous investigation ultimately leads to further intimidation, more than one kidnapping, and, sadly, additional deaths. Perry (To the North, 2018, etc.) gets this swift mystery off to a running start, with Kidd already investigating and Phil providing case details. Readers only know as much as the detective, and identifying the culprit who committed the murders isn’t easy. Moreover, Kidd becomes a more complicated character as the story continues. He starts a dalliance with someone connected to the case and is flustered by the impending release of Goran Markovic, who had been awaiting trial for gunning down Kidd’s cop fiancee, Erin Jade. Though the mystery eventually unravels on its own, it’s still a treat to watch the sleuth in frequent scenes of interrogations. His easygoing demeanor tends to make others talkative, and he has a holstered Glock 17 in case the interviewee turns aggressive.

A diverting whodunit bolstered by a laudable, complex detective.

Pub Date: April 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-336820-8

Page Count: 317

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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